ANTI BLATHER POETICS
Steve Evans discusses poetry and money here.
I welcomed his analysis though, as an MBA-er moiself, I gotta say that it doesn't take much smarts to look upon the poetry scene and address it (or take advantage of it) as a nonregulated industry. That is, Barr and Gioia may well be smart people but the poetry world is pretty easy stuff for any businessman (sic) to address if -- and that's a big IF -- one is to rely on the capitalist model. Poetry world is a soft challenge relative to, say, the double-dealing world of Enron-plus. Which is not to rationalize, of course, the conservatizing infrastructure such gentlemen attempt to enforce upon Poetry as an art. But on the other hand, it's not Barr and Gioia but other poets who are deciding to accept false gold, ya know.
Now, I'm not necessarily disputing anything Steve Evans is saying. I'm just saying that his point of view and the Barr/Gioia point of views are so evident in the stances they take. It'd be interesting to see what an analyst -- who's not necessarily wedded to the capitalist or socialist (rightist or leftist ...bah on these categories) POV would say.
The Bushies aren't attacking poetry per se -- there's no significant money in it, notwithstanding the $200 million left by the Lilly heir. In the world of Bush, $200 million is nothing. These Bushies don't give a shit about Poetry. They are, instead, rewarding peeps they see as like-minded, e.g. Barr and Gioia. And while Evans should be applauded for addressing this issue it's still a generally predictable response. Don't take this as a diss against Evans -- at least he's saying something and saying it well.
But in addition to saying something (which, if that's all that happens means that the conservatives have created the basis for discourse including dissenting discourse), poet-peeps also can do something. (Not that I'm saying Evans isn't doing as well).
Doing something. For a very small example related to something that occurred recently in moi backyard, poet peeps might actually try to understand what it means to forge and foster a "community" (elliptical to those of you not in my backyard but you hangin' out by moi barbecue grill might understand...'nuff said on that topic). These (metaphorically) NGO or grassroot type of communities have the power to have more influence on various sectors -- more influence than those whose financial resources allow them to tout their prizes and grants in advertising-needy mags like Poets & Writers.
Evans says this paragraph:
"With hundreds of millions of private and federal dollars now at their disposal, the businessmen poets are positioned to administer serious damage to one of the liveliest, most democratized, and brilliantly articulate art forms in America."
Sure. If your poetry world is the world of "captured audiences" like classroom students, or of grants and other teat-offering services. But if your poetry world is beyond that, there's nothing to worry about. Take blogs -- poetry blogland, like it or not, is a source of power -- even if not just due to a po blogger's insight but as being held to the tail of the internet. Communication is power.
And I am here to staunch any wound, dear Peeps, dealt by businessmen poets. Not because I have an MBA (double major in economics and international business, thank you very much). But because my fallen angels can beat yours in poker...ANY time. (Not that I choose to "win" all the time, dear ones, since Moi is also brimming with compassion.)
To create Poetry is to play poker with those who laugh at your money -- if you're just waving your bills around, you're not even at the true table.